Metamorphosed Nicobarese: From skeptic restraint to candid participation……
Sabrina Jack, a ten years old school student from Small Lapathy village was attending a participatory learning and action (PLA) program on Disaster Risk Reduction for the first time in her life. She stays in the permanent shelter provided to her tsunami-affected family of 7 members by the A & N Administration in her village at Car Nicobar, one of the worst affected islands during the catastrophe of 26th December, 2004 in the archipelago of A & N Islands.
Sabrina Jack, Small Lapathy, Car Nicobar
When asked by Miss Anita Rebecca, the Village Level Animator (VLA) of WBVHA, who was anchoring the presentation program for Vulnerability Risk mapping and Resource Planning at Small Lapathy village during the month of December, 2008, “Which are the risky and safe zones in your village?”, Sabrina was one of the first amongst the participants to raise her hand. She answered, “The desolate area among the woods in the interiors where I’m not allowed to go to play is the risky area because a couple of people had committed suicide there.”
Miss Anita Rebecca, VLA, WBVHA, Car Nicobar
Sabrina was only six years old when the tsunami had struck her panam (world) and since then she has heard of umpteen number of similar DRR programs being organized by multifarious organizations in her village, but was never before allowed by her parents to partake in them. They told her it was all for the grown ups and not for the young kids like her.
Children participating in CLDRR activities at Small Lapathy
In fact, despite a surfeit of relief, rehabilitation and disaster preparedness initiatives taken up by various government and non government organizations during the past four years post tsunami, due to lack of sustenance for the DRR initiatives, the Nicobarese community was ignorant of the fact that children can and have to play a protagonist role in disaster risk reduction and preparedness initiatives for the sake of factual sustainability. WBVHA’s Child Led Disaster Risk Reduction (CLDRR) project, supported by Save the Children-BRB, has succeeded in bringing the children out of the closet and has provided a unique platform for them to participate, learn and lead the community in the DRR initiatives for the far-reaching good of the entire archipelago. And their vivacious response has been overwhelmingly constructive.
Nicobarese playing Volleyball at Perka, Car Nicobar
The people of the buoyant Nicobarese tribe from the Nicobar group of islands are renowned for their uncomplicated civilization, unequalled hospitality, their swarming passion for sports and cultural activities. Christmas is the major festival celebrated with impeccable groundwork throughout the Nicobarese tribal area and Car Nicobar happens to be the hub of it all. The preparations begin as early as one and a half months before 25th December every year, with the mighty Tribal Council overseeing all the activities to a T. Consequently, no externally initiated activity is entertained by anyone in the whole island during the period. Nevertheless, with the escalating awareness and the mounting gusto among the community, owing to the WBVHA’s CLDRR field team’s comprehensively participatory methodology, the community paid due heed to the urgency and the significance of DRR for themselves and their generations to come and, hence, cooperated with the team in carrying out the activities despite the stringent schedule of the Christmas Day preparations and also the alarmingly high rate of mortality in the island.
As the First Captain of Small Lapathy, Ms. Irena Mark said, “We can celebrate the holy festival of Christmas befittingly and rightfully, only when we secure ourselves and our future generations against the probable disasters and hence going hand in hand with the activities of WBVHA’s CLDRR team has to be an integral part of our Christmas Day preparations, as well. We will celebrate the holy Christmas with thanks to them.”
Dear friends, I’m leaving for Car Nicobar, again, this morning at 10 am for a fortnight to coordinate the program further. See you all when I’m back by 25th January, 2009 or so. Until then, your Islander’s signing off, here. But, the Blog is very much there with you to devour it. Take care! All the best… Cheers!!!